CBS and NBC to offer 99 cent shows... But not with iTunes

by Derrick Story

Looks like the broadcast world isn't going to sit by and let Apple dominate TV show downloads the way it's done with music. Both CBS and NBC have announced they have formed partnerships with Comcast and DirectTV respectively to offer a downloadable selection of their best shows for 99 cents a pop.

What's interesting about these announcements is that it's clear that we're not going to have one place to access downloadable TV content, unless, that is, it's via a peer to peer network (which we seem to be moving away from based on the recent Grokster case ruling). Maybe someone can step up and aggregate all of this content.

Otherwise, the option of subscribing to iTunes, Comcast, DirectTV, etc, etc, etc to download shows just isn't realistic. I don't get to watch much TV now (although I have started viewing Lost via iTunes), and it doesn't seem like that's gonna change much.


2005-11-08 12:41:49
Don't forget file formats
The FREE NBC Nightly News postings that are starting up this week are in WMV only. UGH!

Yeah, you can find players for the proprietary stuff, but posting MP4's would be so much better.

2005-11-08 12:47:03
RE: Don't forget file formats
File formats... the very phrase sends me back 5 years to fooling around with the Real Player that insisted I do some type of maintenance every time I launched it. Please... not again.

That being said, I do recognize that WMV is a good format for much of the computing world. The thing is, the .mp and .mov formats are good for just about everyone.

2005-11-08 15:28:38
And they aren't really downloads
In both cases the networks have agreed to content that will either be available as pay per view video-on-demand (Comcast) or downloaded to your DVR (DirecTV). In the case of NBC the show will disappear from your DVR when next week's episode is out, so you paid for the priviledge of not being tied to the network's schedule. At least with the ABC/Disney stuff on iTunes you own the content (even if it is DRM laiden).
2005-11-08 15:29:40
Don't forget file formats
You're surprised that a network that has a partnership with Microsoft (the MS in MSNBC) would provide files in a Windows only format?
2005-11-12 03:02:37
Too early to worry
I think we're in a very early, very experimental stage, and the legacy content distributors (who are also the content creators, thanks to fin-syn, but I digress) are just getting their toes into other forms of distribution (and giddy enough with sales of TV shows on DVD to think there may be money here).

So this doesn't have to be seen as anti-iTunes, it's just experimenting with their natural preference for more closed systems, like those provided by cable companies with VOD capability, and by satellite+PVR. As others have noted in the talkbacks here, the CBS and NBC plans are different from iTunes because you don't own the show forever.

Also compare to using computer-based streaming, as Adult Swim does with their "Friday Night Fix" (when they put typical AS programming on a net stream the one night that AS isn't on Cartoon Network). This is a third model - no money changes hands, but the user doesn't keep the content on his or her computer, and can only access the stream at a specific time. It's more a sort of promotion for the network than anything else. Again, another form of experimentation.

The market is finding its way right now. Don't fear for iTunes. They're a major player already, with one unique asset - portability.